City of Sarasota commits $500,000 to help build shelter

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SARASOTA, Fla. - The City of Sarasota committed half a million dollars Tuesday night to build a homeless shelter in Sarasota, matching what county leaders had already promised. But is a million dollars enough to solve the problem?

Some say at this point, it's impossible to know.

Some officials are calling this commitment largely symbolic. In fact some say they expect the amount needed could actually double or triple that amount.

Some homeless residents though say they're glad that local leaders finally seem to be getting serious about solving this problem.

"Our study and the report is not in, hopefully it won’t cost more than that, what’s been set aside. But it could be double or triple that, we just don’t know," says city manager Tom Barwin.

The Sarasota City Commission opted to match the $500,000 already committed by the county. Barwin however says that trying to keep up with the county down the road could be a challenge. "But in the long view, it’s going to be very difficult for the city to match the county dollar for dollar."

He also says the city is being hit hardest when it comes to dealing with the problem. “The city has taken a disproportionate share of the burden, and I think at this point it’s safe to say the city is clearly overwhelmed with the challenge."

He adds that any answer lies beyond just the county and the city. "It’s definitely a partnership. There needs to be a partnership between all of the cities and the county to really address this challenge and have much better results."

Homeless residents though, say they're glad local leaders finally seem to be willing to take on the issue.

"Finally, to see something start really kicking in, I'm jazzed. It will work," says Cindy Edlund.

“I think it's a long time coming, but I'm glad it is coming through," says James Franklin, Jr.

The report that’s being done by homeless expert Dr. Robert Marbut is expected to be completed in the coming weeks. At that point both city and county leaders will have a better idea as to the total cost of dealing with this problem.